2010 has been quite the whirlwind year for entrepreneurs, small business owners, innovators, and anyone in the job market (just about everyone):  unemployment has maintained its record levels despite the greatest investment in government spending in the history of our country, and entrepreneurs and innovators, the ones who create jobs, are hesitant to invest and expand due to the lack of stability in the market, whether through uncertain future taxes, extremely low consumer confidence and spending, increased costs, or a perpetually tight credit market.

Perhaps, the only light at the end of the tunnel comes from that knowledge that, despite Washington’s determination to “fix” the economy, the American spirit that demands economic freedom, is touted through the free market, and projected through entrepreneurship, has not been entirely restrained.

Despite the passing of legislation which guarantees an increase in per-employee health care costs for many businesses (which, despite your philosophy on the necessity for universal healthcare, businesses, such as McDonald’s, Universal, and more than 200 others have demonstrated their inability to cover the costs by demanding, AND receiving, waivers in lieu of cutting health insurance for their employees)[i]; despite an increased requirement for 1099 reporting, which will take time and money away from small businesses; despite an attempt to raise the tax rate of millions of businesses and every American by allowing tax cuts to expire (which temporarily stinted growth by reducing the ability to plan for costs); despite the mantra that in order to cover a budget shortfall we must raise taxes instead of reducing spending (which has been proven in states like New Jersey, New York, and California to force a mass business emigration)[ii]; and despite a nearly across-the-board increase in business regulations which cause many would-be business owners to curtail their dreams because of the bureaucratic tape and costs involved (see story on lemonade stand shut down due to lack of “temporary restaurant license”)[iii], entrepreneurs are still out there, some businesses are growing, and innovators are still innovating.

But what is most important to you is what we are all going to do about it.  Well, The National Puerto Rican Chamber of Commerce is not just going to sit around and wait on someone else to take care of us, that’s for sure.  Our entire mission revolves around developing ways of helping you.  Although still in our infancy, this year alone we have developed a micro-lending partnership with Acción USA, helped many businesses with planning, marketing, and financing, advocated for important legislation that affects the small businessperson such as the aforementioned tax bill, and have created programs to help young entrepreneurs gain the confidence they need to implement their own business plans, all of which has helped us become one of the fastest growing Hispanic organizations in the country, gaining nearly 10,000 members and an outreach of more than 20,000 . . . just since the summer!

However, the coming year’s plans are really exciting!  We are going to increase the number of micro and other loans available to our members, offer greater local assistance in cities like New York and Charlotte (expanding to Philadelphia, San Francisco, and more soon), update our newsletter, partnership, and marketing strategies so that we can offer more opportunities to highlight our many business owners (i.e. free marketing), and offer even more services than before, such as inspirational webinar discussions from some of our most successful entrepreneurs.  The great part about all of this is that, during 2011, we are offering all of this as part of our completely free membership!

Most importantly, our mission going forward is not going to change:  We believe that entrepreneurship is the key to a strong, successful economy.  To that end, we will continue to support the development of entrepreneurship and innovation for Puerto Ricans, Hispanics, Women, and other minorities throughout Puerto Rico and the U.S. mainland in order to reach our goal this year of helping to create 1,000 jobs across the country!  In addition, we will represent the interests of our members by advocating for policies which enhance or maintain economic freedom—those policies which are most supportive of a growing economy.

To do so, we continue to need the help of our most successful, our most giving, our families and our friends . . . in a nutshell, we need you.  Simply looking over the last year, we can see how much we can achieve with so little.  Your contributions are invaluable and are the reason we have become an organization devoted to helping others.  Although a hackneyed phrase, together we really can do anything.

We wish you all a prosperous and healthy New Year!  If there is anything we can do to help, whether in business or in life, feel free to contact us.

Help us, help each other.

 

 

 

 

 

Justin Velez-Hagan

National Executive Director

 

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